A pulled abdominal muscle forced me to miss the February edition of ‘the best wee race in Scotland’ and I had no intention of doing a parkrun on Saturday but as I looked out the window and saw the weather improving as the clock ticked towards 9:30a.m I through caution to the wind and made my way along to Pollok Country Park with my faithful hound.
The flooded approach roads were a reminder of the heavy rain which had battered down during the night and a strong indication that the course would be on the tricky side. To a certain extent, that would suit me as I didn’t want to aggravate my injury too much. A slow steady run would suit me fine.
There wasn’t much time for a warm up and it wasn’t long until Jack and I were lining up with the assembled masses. It was clear that both the weather and the staging of the National XC Championships later in the day had diminished the usual numbers from 450 last week to 300 hardy souls.
As the race director made the usual pre-race announcements, I noticed that ever-present Al Maclachlan had not appeared at his usual spot at the front of the pack. We waited a bit longer than usual to allow a couple of late comers to join the field before being set on our way downhill towards the giant puddles.
As planned, I took it nice and easy and the first kilometre took me a leisurely 4:43. The second kilometre was downhill and took 4:36. We turned left into the narrow trail and through the muddy puddles before making our way up the hill to the half way point. Then we ran downhill, past the supporters, a sharp left and a sharp right and then a short flat run before being directed to our left and uphill towards the big puddle on North Wood Road, where a gentle incline took us to the 3k point. The third kilometre had taken me 4:37.
I passed Graeme Pert proudly wearing his well earned 250 parkrun t-shirt. I remember the day he ran his first one! It was at this point that I started to think that I could place first in my age category and entered race mode in an attempt to catch any older looking runners in the next two kilometres. Of course, looks can be deceptive but it’s good to have a target to chase after. Well, perhaps not if you are meant to be just having a steady run but, hey, you’re only young once. The fourth kilometre took 4:23.
As we approached the final 300m I managed to catch Garry Henderson, running his 199th parkrun, but he wasn’t going to let me beat him easily and he caught me on the downhill stage. I didn’t give up though and dragged Jack behind me as I sprinted for the line, just and only just, crossing the finish before the big fella. I placed 38th with a time of 22:07. the final kilometre having taken me 3:48 of hard work. But it was all in vain, not only did I find out that Garry (M50-54) was not in the same age category as me (M50-59), none of the runners that I had caught were.
I had to settle for second place again though this time to ‘probably the most unsung of Scotland’s athletic talents in recent years, a Scottish Internationalist on the track, on the road and over the country’, Alastair Douglas of Victoria Park AAC. Alastair placed 16th with a time of 20:18, not beyond my target at Pollok Park but his course PB of 17:19 is in a different league, let alone his 5000m PB of 14:07. Born on 10th December 1960, the super vet has won races in five different decades from the 70’s onwards.
Alastair wasn’t the only mature running legend to beat me as just two places behind him was St Kitts and Nevis running legend Frankie Barton, who narrowly missed out on being picked for their London Olympics marathon team, even though he was 56 at the time and had made his name running shorter distances on the track. The Keith and District Runner has a 5k PB of 15:34 but on his Pollok debut settled for 18th place in a time of 20:31.
It was great to participate in the same event as these two stalwarts of the Scottish running scene. Whilst I did have the pleasure of a brief chat with Frank after the run, there is no truth in the rumour that we exchanged running vests.
Muckle thanks to all of the twenty-two volunteers who braved the weather so that we could have our Saturday morning parkrun.
The event was calculated by Power of 10 as being sss 4.2 and my performance a 0.2, which was enough to reduce my handicap from 8.0 to 7.8.
Full Results here.